Smart device collaboration
The Good Stuff
- Wink has a good design and a user-friendly interface
- Affordable and versatile
The Not So Good Stuff
- The device pairing process can be challenging
- Lack of flexibility with the controller and application
- No community support available
- No support for voice control
- Multiple issues with latency – sometimes forever
- Unresponsive cloud-based infrastructure: all the commands pass through their “cloud.”
Wink launched in 2014 as a central hardware hub/controller supporting multiple standards for smart home devices. It now has more than 1.3 million devices in its network, and they are poised to add more in 2017. Wink 2nd Generation became available October 2016 with a sleeker design, bigger processor and storage in addition to pre-installed automations to make reaction speed faster.
Wink was designed to make it easier to connect smart devices from different companies together under one central command center.
Using a controller that connects to Android and iOS platforms you can connect using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. While the original controller was complicated and buggy, newer models have been updated to make it much easier to connect smart devices.
The Wink controller doesn’t process anything locally. All the processes and commands go through the internet to their operations environment over the cloud. Which may result in slower response times as the system relies on the end users Wi-Fi speed.
As with other hubs, the mobile application allows creating scheduled actions and triggers like dimming the light, create automation across products, etc. It also provisions to create shortcuts, quick small automated tasks with a feature called ‘Robots’ which aids to simplify and improve the routine tasks.
Specifications of Wink Controller includes:
|Battery Life||Battery Life - Up to 10 hours|
|Supported Protocols||Bluetooth, Z-Wave® (Security Enabled Z-Wave Plus Device), ZigBee®, Wi-Fi®, Lutron® Clear Connect®|
|Supported device types||
|Physical Specification||8"L x 3"W x 8"H|
- Wink App – The application is available free of cost in the Apple App Store and on Google play, and has a user-friendly The apps are the same on iOS and Android. You can use the app to set controls for monitoring and managing all the smart devices across your home.
You can see all of your connected devices on the Wink App; you can also add, remove or adjust the settings of your devices using the app. It is useful if you forget if you locked the or if you are out late and want to turn the lights on.
- Shortcuts – Wink Shortcuts is a very well thought feature which allows you to control multiple products and actions with a single tap. For example, a shortcut can be created called “Welcome” which would trigger to unlock the doors, turn on the drawing room’s light and adjust thermostats – all at once..
- Wink Robots – Robots lets you customize the way your smart home automation devices would speak to each other based on triggers such as activities or location. It helps multiple products to collaborate, for example, you can create a “Safety robot” that triggers your lights to turn on automatically if smoke is detected to help you wake up and exit your home quickly..
- Wink Schedules – Wink lets users create a schedule within the application, synchronizing between individual or multiple products/groups of smart devices. The possibilities to enable and use this feature is endless – you can set schedule to switch off everything, when you go to bed, have all your lights switched off and doors locked during your routine time of leaving for work,
- Look and Feel – White Wink controller is a 7.25-inch square strong box which’s nearly 2 inches deep at its foot stand. There’s no Ethernet required, all the hub needs is a plug to connect to a sole power cable. Once the Wink hub is connected, the mobile app is spontaneous and quite easy to use. It can be compared well with the mobile application of the leading home automation products and devices.
- Wink App – It is very simple and extremely easy to use in about other smart home systems and devices. ‘Robot’ is also an interesting feature with a resilient design, which makes automation simple and intuitive.
- Wink App Compatible – There are some products which are marked as ‘Wink app compatible’ which signifies those can connect to the Wink app. They use communications like Zigbee, ClearConnect, Zwave to improve battery life and extend the range of other smart home automation devices around your home. It allows different devices to communicates using the same wireless language so to control and customize their communications from the Wink app.
Wink controller does not support legacy automation protocols. Z-wave items including smart home devices from brands like Nest, Lutron, and other smart home automation brands are supported.
- Wink App Ready – Just like ‘Wink app compatible’ products, smart home devices which are ‘Wink App Ready’ have built in Wink technology which can connect directly to the Wink App without the assistance of Wink controller. Wink App Ready products use Wi-Fi, again to connect to the wireless router and have a setup implemented.
- Pairing process – Even though Wink has a simple, easy to follow a process to setup automation, pairing smart home devices with the hub can be complicated. The Wink installation process is supposed to be an entire DIY project. Even though the customer support via email and telephone is responsive, you can also browse the manuals and Wink FAQ. Unlike its competitor’s, Wink doesn’t have an online forum or live chat support for customer support and assistance.
- Lack of community support – Wink Hub has not opened up its environment to communities to create content and expand the operations. Thus, there are no ways to connect to non-supported devices. There’s no support available for voice control, customized and random programs and wired systems.
- Lack of error handling – The Wink app may not always update the status of connected devices correctly, and sometimes it takes even more than 5 – 15 minutes to update to the new status you may even need to restart the app. There’s no precise error handling capabilities built into the Wink controller to fix such issues and keep the real status time. Cases have been reported for lights which are always to remain on at the switch and are accidentally manually switched off – it confuses the Wink and status will continue to remain as ‘On’. If the switch is turned back on and turned off using the Wink app, the app shows the light as off, but the light would remain on.
- Latency – Latency is one of the major focus areas for any smart hub. For Wink, latency is sometimes random or sometimes forever without getting a command being processed and executed. Sometimes commands simply won’t get executed, and the cause for this is the failure to deliver a responsive cloud-based infrastructure.As cloud computing continues to improve, we expect it to deliver an effective and efficient service. It can be frustrating when you are waiting for a signal to go to the cloud and back to the device. There’s no supported APIs or mechanism to control devices that are connected.
- Weak Range – Connectivity between Wink hub and the smart home devices, is one of the major problems with Wink hub. One of the major limitations of Wink is the range, wherein 100 ft. is the maximum for straight and clear distances. For houses which have smart home devices in the effective range between 30ft – 40 ft, Wink had troubles connecting and pairing. This is issue is compounded by the fact that Wink doesn’t support Hub extenders or repeaters to extend the range. Additionally, the Wink controller doesn’t allow to connect to any hidden networks, nor to any 5 GHz networks.
Wink Relay: It is an alternative hardware controller – a premium looking touch screen which provisions its users to control the Wink Smart Home system without a smartphone. It has multiple features enabled within itself which double as an auxiliary for light switches and has a built in intercom which Wink plans to activate in future.